ANNAPOLIS – Same-sex marriages are already outlawed in Maryland. Now lawmakers are being asked to deny same-sex marriages performed in other states and foreign countries.
The bill was sparked by a case in Hawaii, where two men have gone to the state Supreme Court in an effort to get marriage licenses.
“Homosexual activists have managed to secure a foothold on Hawaii that could force America to accept same-sex marriage from coast to coast,” said Conrae Fortlage of the Concerned Women of America, in testimony Thursday to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
But opponents say the Constitution requires states to give “full faith and credit” to legal acts of other states including divorce, marriage — and gay marriage.
“It’s about refusing to recognize the laws of another state,” said Dwight Sullivan, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. “The full faith and credit clause is the glue the binds the states together as a union.”
He said lawmakers are running scared at the thought that Hawaii could permit same-sex marriages that might be recognized elsewhere. But he and others said the state would be violating the constitutional rights of gays if they denied their marriages.
Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Dorchester, and one of the sponsors of the bill, said testimony about its constitutionality would not change many peoples’ minds on the issue.
“Obviously if I believed in same-sex marriages, I would not be introducing this bill,” said Colburn, who sponsored the bill with Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll County.
The bill would define marriage as “a legal union between a man and a woman” and deny same-sex marriages formed in other states or countries.
Patricia Kelly, associate director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said the bill is not so much about rejecting same-sex marriages as it is about a “traditional definition of marriage.”
Kelly, representing the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said the bill defines marriage as an “exclusive lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love.”
“Our support is based on the church’s and society’s tradition of upholding the sanctity of marriage and strength of the family as the foundation of a stable and moral society,” Kelly said.
But George F. McAndrews, representing the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, told the committee that he has 10 children, one of whom is a lesbian.
McAndrews, a Catholic deacon from Columbia, stressed that he was not there to represent the church. But he wants everyone to know that he is equally proud of all his children and troubled by a bill that would “condemn gay marriages.”
“You can call it what you will,” McAndrews said. “You may cloak and disguise it in any manner you wish. It is nothing but hateful bigotry.
“And it comes from one of the worst diseases that exists in all society, homophobia. You can’t take a pill for it and unfortunately it won’t go away very easily,” he said.
McAndrews said he would rather have a strong union of two individuals in a marriage relationship than the same two living together with no such commitment.
But Fortlage argued that “marriage is not a right. It is a privilege.” The bill is not about denying homosexuals certain rights, she said, adding that gay activists are too eager to plead bigotry and discrimination.
“In doing so, they make their fight out to be a valiant fight for civil rights,” Fortlage said. “But homosexuals are not a legal minority.”